Manchester United were much improved as a brace from Scott McTominay sealed a vital Premier League win over a disappointing Chelsea side at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes missed an early penalty for the hosts, but McTominay broke the deadlock midway through the first half as Erik ten Hag’s team sparkled in the first half.
Boyhood United fan and ex-Manchester City forward Cole Palmer equalised on the stroke of half-time, with both sides guilty of missing chances, with McTominay's header after the break ultimately the difference on the night.
How the game unfolded
It was a bright start from the hosts after a difficult few days of finger pointing, with Bruno Fernandes seeing an early sighter from distance sail just over the bar and Rasmus Hojlund forcing an important save from Robert Sanchez with a first-time snap shot from the left.
The Chelsea stopper remained the hero a few moments later when he got a strong hand to Fernandes' penalty. Antony, coming into this game with a point to prove, had won the spot-kick after a poor attempt at a challenge from Enzo Fernandez – although VAR was needed to give it.
Sanchez made more saves when he denied Alejandro Garnacho and Antony, while Mykhailo Mudryk hit the outside of the post from a narrow angle at the other end in Chelsea's first meaningful attack. Andre Onana also did well not to spill a moving effort from Fernandez.
Even with Chelsea starting to find their feet, McTominay's opener had long been coming when the Scot drilled United into the lead. Harry Maguire's initial shot was blocked and McTominay did incredibly well to control the rebound and then fire home on the volley.
As the first half progressed, Sanchez made a point-blank double save to stop McTominay doubling his and United's lead. But Chelsea, although struggling in build-up play, were creating openings on the break, forcing Onana to take the ball off Nicolas Jackson and Mudryk dragging a good chance wide.
Palmer's equaliser eventually provided Chelsea with the moment of quality they had been missing across their wasted opportunities, stretching to take in Mudryk's pass, delaying his shot and then carefully finding the bottom corner, beyond the reach of Onana, from just inside the box.
The second half was more of a slow burn but Antony's deflected effort had Sanchez scrambling, moments before Old Trafford collectively erupted to appeal a potential handball from Levi Colwill as Luke Shaw drove the ball goalward. Both referee and VAR were unmoved.
It was a sign that United were moving back into the ascendancy and McTominay, who had been hunting a second goal since he scored his first, timed a perfect run at the far post to meet Garnacho's teasing in-swinging cross from the left. In truth, any one of three in red shirts could have scored it.
McTominay ought to have had his hat-trick almost instantly but somehow shanked a relatively straightforward chance well wide. Chelsea were then hanging on when a mistake from Reece James let Garnacho through, with only a combination of the recovering skipper and Sanchez stopping him. The Argentine missed the target from close-range as the clock ticked on.
Without a two-goal cushion, despite the performance, United remained vulnerable until the end and were almost punished when Chelsea substitute Armando Broja turned a close-range header onto the outside of the post just as the game moved into stoppage time.
Man Utd player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Andre Onana - 6/10 - Not overly tested thanks to Chelsea's wayward shooting but made a couple of decent saves and will use the confidence boost.
RB: Diogo Dalot - 7/10 - Always eager to get forward and played with good energy.
CB: Harry Maguire - 7/10 - Gave the ball away more than he should, yet from a defensive perspective alone it was a good display.
CB: Victor Lindelof - 6/10 - Seemingly sacrificed for tactical reasons.
LB: Luke Shaw - 7/10 - Moved centrally when Lindelof was taken off but was still eager to push forward when United had possession.
CM: Sofyan Amrabat - 7/10 - Occasionally sloppy on the ball early on but his powers of recovery were very good and did the simple stuff well overall.
CM: Scott McTominay - 9/10 - Took his first goal like a clinical and seasoned striker - it was a hard chance - and was keen to get more. Should have had another before half-time but got it after the break. Even could have had a hat-trick after that.
RM: Antony - 8/10 - Chelsea defenders seemed determined to provoke him but the application was good and it was almost like a fresh start with more effective basics.
AM: Bruno Fernandes (c) - 7/10 - Will know his penalty wasn't good enough. Even when things weren't quite working, never gave up trying to make things happen.
LM: Alejandro Garnacho - 9/10 - His clever and disguised pass helped create the early goal for McTominay and it was an outstanding cross to directly make his teammate's second too.
ST: Rasmus Hojlund - 6/10 - Prolific in Europe but still not quite on the same page as his teammates in the Premier League. Movement appeared decent.
SUB: Sergio Reguilon (46' for Lindelof) - 7/10
SUB: Marcus Rashford (84' for Hojlund) - N/A
SUB: Jonny Evans (90+2 for Garnacho) - N/A
Subs not used: Bayindir (GK), Wan-Bissaka, Mainoo, Van de Beek, Pellistri, Martial
Erik ten Hag - 9/10 - Had a big job to nurture a performance from his team after the firestorm of recent days in the wake of the Newcastle defeat. But he managed it and better finishing could have resulted in an even more comfortable win.
Chelsea player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Robert Sanchez - 8/10 - Was almost single-handedly keeping Chelsea in the game in the first half. Stood little chance for the goals that went in.
RB: Marc Cucurella - 5/10 - Didn't look fully comfortable on the right from the very start.
CB: Axel Disasi - /510 - Saw a lot of the ball. Not particularly commanding off it.
CB: Thiago Silva - 5/10 - Not as polished as is usually expected from him.
LB: Levi Colwill (c) - 5/10 - Not strong enough when mcTominay restored the United lead - went down too easily hoping for a free-kick that was never likely.
CM: Moises Caicedo - 6/10 - Still finding his feet in a Chelsea shirt and struggled to keep up.
CM: Enzo Fernandez - 4/10 - His tackle on Antony to concede the penalty was reckless and clumsy. Did very little else to positively influence proceedings.
RM: Raheem Sterling - 5/10 - Fortunate not to get booked for what appeared to be a blatant dive in the first half. Lacked the quality when it mattered.
AM: Cole Palmer - 7/10 - On the periphery of the game until he popped up with a smart equaliser.
LM: Mykhailo Mudryk - 6/10 - Hit the post early on and got into good positions. But guilty of lacking the quality in key moments. His assist for the equaliser was largely the result of Palmer's control.
ST: Nicolas Jackson - 6/10 - His performance certainly wasn't without endeavour, yet decision making in key moments still needs polishing. Faded from the game in the second half.
SUB: Reece James (46' for Cucurella) - 4/10
SUB: Armando Broja (77' for Mudryk) - 6/10
Subs not used: Petrovic (GK), Badiashile, Maatsen, Gilchrist, Castledine, Washington, Matos
Mauricio Pochettino - 5/10 - It needed more from the Chelsea performance against a United side who have been proven all season to have a soft underbelly.